Author Interview

Author Interview: Janet DeLee

This use to be on my old book review blog and since that blog is no longer active, I am moving the posts here. I love supporting other authors.

Today Id like to welcome Janet DeLee to the blog. I reviewed her wonderful book, Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts, yesterday and loved it so much. I wanted to know more about this author and thought you all might, as well.

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You can find the review of Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts by clicking on the cover to the right.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? When I was nine years old.

How long does it take you to write a book? The first one took fourteen months and the second took about twenty months. I hope to publish my next book in the spring of 2016.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? I’m a morning person so that’s when I write. I do marketing and fact checking afternoons. However, when I’m in the editing phase I often lose time and the next thing I know it’s midnight. If I get distracted during the conception stage and don’t prioritize my work in the morning the productivity gets shot to pieces.  I try not to schedule appointments or answer the phone until the afternoon.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? To avoid writer’s block I have to get my right and left brain working in harmony. For the outline the right brain wants to spread out and finds the laptop too confining. That side of my brain will write one sentence scene descriptions on post-it notes. The left brain takes those notes and puts them on a big empty wall in logical order and is not allowed to fuss at the right brain about not doing things in sequential order.

The right brain is willing to use the laptop for the first draft, but nothing stifles its creativity more than linear progression, so to keep things moving along it writes the chapters according to whatever mood it’s in on a given day, and the left brain puts the copy in the right chapter sequence. We must all march forward without looking back during the first draft because if we stop to edit a newly written   chapter time is lost and I am dismayed to discover we have spent hours editing three paragraphs to perfection.

When the editing phase begins the left brain keeps a sharp lookout to make sure any new material that suddenly shows up advances the story. The right brain is delighted with all new creation, but the left brain has to keep order in the court or the book will never get finished. This method respectfully allows both sides to do what they do best, and prevents the right brain from stomping off in a huff     saying, “I can’t work like this!”

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? Sometimes from my own experiences, or from something in the news which my right brain has a swell time embellishing. My right brain      is always dreaming up new scenarios and the more I let it soar the better the ideas flow. This means the left brain has to refrain from judgment during idea generation, but is allowed to pick and choose whatever works best from the pile of ideas.

When did you write your first book and how old were you? I’ve tinkered with novels for years but the first novel I actually finished was when I was fifty-eight.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? I love to visit with friends or family, hang out with my cats, watch Property Brothers on HGTV, read, explore back roads in my car, make blackberry jam, and most of all I love to travel all over Italy by myself. Someday I want to spend winters writing in Florence.

What does your family think of your writing? Some of them were doubtful at first but eventually they got on board.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? Patience and new appreciation for the way my brain works.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? I’ve written two books and I like them both, but I think the second book is my favorite because I really enjoyed getting to know all the new  characters.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? Some are hoping I’ll develop a romance between Lee and Ginny. They also like the Ideal Life Club and some have told me they are pursuing dreams of their own which I’m excited to hear about.  I’ve even had readers ask me if I would organize an Ideal Life Club and that may happen in the future.

What do you think makes a good story? I like stories about people who are put in situations that push them out of their comfort zones, and how that causes them to grow in new and wonderful ways. I really like characters that I get to know well. Also, I want to be fully immersed in the scenes and see what the characters are seeing. And finally, I enjoy a story that makes me laugh. I write what I would like to read and use these personal preferences as a guide.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? A writer, a singer, an archeologist, a teacher, or a dime store clerk.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Resurrecting and pursuing dormant dreams is a big adventure.

What books have most influenced your life most?

  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
  • Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe
  • Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani
  • Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck
  • and most anything written by Thoreau and Emerson.

What are your current projects? I’m working on the next book in the Ideal Life Club series, gathering courage and information to write my first screen play, and I’ll also work on a second revised edition of my first book.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? Keeping up with the events of each character and making sure the time line made sense for what they were doing was challenging because the right brain kept veering off the outline. Sometimes humor would seem forced, but I had more success once I learned to relax, immerse myself in the scene, and listen to what my characters were saying instead of putting words in their mouths.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Every day I repeat the following quote by Tony Gaskins: “Trust the process. Your time is coming. Just do the work and the results will handle themselves.”

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? I hope we meet one day.

What’s next for you after your current project is complete? I’ll hopefully write that screenplay I mentioned, and then start on the third book in the Ideal Life Club series.

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